"What does Jesus Christ do in the Eucharist? It is God who, as our Savior, offers himself each day for us to his Father's justice. If you are in difficulties and sorrows, he will comfort and relieve you. If you are sick, he will either cure you or give you strength to suffer so as to merit Heaven. If the devil, the world, and the flesh are making war upon you, he will give you the weapons with which to fight, to resist, and to win victory. If you are poor, he will enrich you with all sorts of riches for time and eternity. Let us open the door of his sacred and adorable Heart, and be wrapped about for an instant by the flames of his love, and we shall see what a God who loves us can do. O my God, who shall be able to comprehend?" — St. John Vianney
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"If we do not die to ourselves, and if our holiest devotions do not incline us to this necessary and useful death, we shall bring forth no fruit worth anything, and our devotions will become useless. All our good works will be stained by self-love and our own will . . . We must choose therefore, among all the devotions to the Blessed Virgin, the one which draws us most toward this death to ourselves, inasmuch as it will be the best and the most sanctifying. For we must not think that all that shines is gold, that all that tastes sweet is honey, or that all that is easy to do and is done by the greatest number is the most sanctifying."
— St. Louis De Montfort, p.40 AN EXCERPT FROM True Devotion to Mary
click to go there
It is unfortunate that no contemporary biography was written of a man who has exercised the greatest influence on monasticism in the West. Benedict is well recognized in the later Dialogues of St. Gregory, but these are sketches to illustrate miraculous elements of his career.
Benedict was born into a distinguished family in central Italy, studied at Rome and early in life was drawn to the monastic life. At first he became a hermit, leaving a depressing world—pagan armies on the march, the Church torn by schism, people suffering from war, morality at a low ebb.
He soon realized that he could not live a hidden life in a small town any better than in a large city, so he withdrew to a cave high in the mountains for three years. Some monks chose him as their leader for a while, but found his strictness not to their taste. Still, the shift from hermit to community life had begun for him. He had an idea of gathering various families of monks into one "Grand Monastery" to give them the benefit of unity, fraternity, permanent worship in one house. Finally he began to build what was to become one of the most famous monasteries in the world—Monte Cassino, commanding three narrow valleys running toward the mountains north of Naples.
The Rule that gradually developed prescribed a life of liturgical prayer, study, manual labor and living together in community under a common father (abbot). Benedictine asceticism is known for its moderation, and Benedictine charity has always shown concern for the people in the surrounding countryside. In the course of the Middle Ages, all monasticism in the West was gradually brought under the Rule of St. Benedict.
Today the Benedictine family is represented by two branches: the Benedictine Federation and the Cistercians.
The Church has been blessed through Benedictine devotion to the liturgy, not only in its actual celebration with rich and proper ceremony in the great abbeys, but also through the scholarly studies of many of its members. Liturgy is sometimes confused with guitars or choirs, Latin or Bach. We should be grateful to those who both preserve and adapt the genuine tradition of worship in the Church.
"Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of man is manifested by signs perceptible to the senses...; in the liturgy full public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members.
"From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of his Body the Church, is a sacred action, surpassing all others" (Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 7).
"Be still and know that I am God". Lord, may your spirit guide me to seek Your Loving presence more and more. For it is there I find rest and refreshment from this busy world.
Thank you God for my freedom May I use this gift to do what I can for those who are oppressed or burdened.
How wonderful it is to be able to enter into your presence Lord. No matter what time it is. No matter which land I am in. I need only to speak your name.
The Word of God
Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abbot
Reading 1 Is 1:10-17
Hear the word of the LORD, princes of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, people of Gomorrah! What care I for the number of your sacrifices? says the LORD. I have had enough of whole-burnt rams and fat of fatlings; In the blood of calves, lambs and goats I find no pleasure.
When you come in to visit me, who asks these things of you? Trample my courts no more! Bring no more worthless offerings; your incense is loathsome to me. New moon and sabbath, calling of assemblies, octaves with wickedness: these I cannot bear. Your new moons and festivals I detest; they weigh me down, I tire of the load. When you spread out your hands, I close my eyes to you; Though you pray the more, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23 R. (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God. "Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you, for your burnt offerings are before me always. I take from your house no bullock, no goats out of your fold."
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God. "Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth, Though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you?"
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God. "When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it? Or do you think you that I am like yourself? I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes. He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me; and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God."
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
Alleluia Mt 5:10 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 10:34-11:1
Jesus said to his Apostles: "Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's enemies will be those of his household.
"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
"Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple– amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward."
When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
To say 'yes' to Jesus' call may mean saying 'no' to the legitimate comforts and securities that this world has to offer. Clearly it did so for Peter who said to Jesus, 'See, we have left everything and followed you.'
I must make a stand for God. Followers of Jesus are often deemed foolish and peculiar. I have to be ready to let the fashions and customs of the world go by. I need to be known by the marks that distinguish a believer in God. These marks are honesty, purity, unselfishness, love, gratitude and humility.
I begin to talk to Jesus about the piece of scripture I have just read. What part of it strikes a chord in me? Perhaps the words of a friend - or some story I have heard recently - will slowly rise to the surface in my consciousness. If so, does the story throw light on what the scripture passage may be trying to say to me?
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me. (Psalm 50:23)
Try to visualize a pie chart with this title: How I Spend My Prayer Time. In this chart are several different slices: Intercessory Prayer, Repentance, Listening, and Praising. Maybe Dozing Off and Daydreaming, too! Now, suppose you're pressed for time and have only ten minutes to pray. How big would you cut each slice in relation to the whole?
A well-known Pentecostal teacher once claimed that if he had only ten minutes to spend in prayer, he would spend eight of those minutes just praising God. That's an unusual answer because it leaves only two minutes for all the other important forms of prayer!
Would you agree that the simple act of praising God is worthy of a large slice of your prayer life? There are many reasons to say yes, but the most straightforward reason is this: "God is worthy of my praise and honor. He just is!"
God is, without a doubt, the kindest, most loving and forgiving Person you've ever known. He listens carefully to all of your prayers. He pours out blessings and gifts, especially the Holy Spirit, into your life. He keeps no embittered record of the wrongs you have committed against him. Instead, he treasures you and honors your desires to do good.
At the same time, this kind and loving Person is also the majestic creator of all that is. Our own galaxy is mind-boggling in both size and complexity, yet it's only one of billions of galaxies. That's how awesome God is! It's no wonder the saints and angels forever fall to their knees, declaring, "Worthy are you, Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things"(Revelation 4:11).
Are you looking to invite heaven into your day? Devote a large slice of time to praising the Lord. Praise him for his love; praise him for his greatness. And for those times you don't feel like doing it, make a sacrifice of praise. Lay aside your tiredness or frustration, and recall everything you know about him. Write out your own personal reasons to praise him that no one else shares. Read them out to him—or even sing them to him! He will be delighted.
"Lord, I praise you because you are ____________."
And so, you go to Church, and you try to do things right. You set yourself up for the future, you got your retirement probably set up, your family takes priority and you do everything for them, and everything mentioned is good, because even in Sodom and Gomorrah they did the same, but they lived in the exact same modes as we do today, where Jesus gets a part of your life, where God gets a part and say in dealing with your life, but...not all.
"To the upright I will show the saving power of God" we hear the Lord say as we pray with Him "Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth" (got to church and stuff) "Though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you?" Because I feel we take our bodies to church, but not our spirit, not a willing spirit. I see some forced to church. Like this distant relative I seen walk in late to Mass, he sat down, and during the homily, he has his arms crossed and facing away. If body language is speaking, I'm hearing things like "yeah yeah, yeah but". And that's the problem of today, the same as yesterday, we have a but for everything. "I'm catholic "BUT" I don't believe in this and that". That's why Prolife has not won, because too many catholics are not for real, they are really not Catholic. They really do not know, and this starts from the bottom up, from you to the priests, to the bishops. It doesn't start from the bishops down. Too often I hear at pastoral meetings and on the internet, and emails people ranting and raging about how "the bishop should do this and that", the "priests need to say this and that from the pulpit". Truth is, YOU Need to say the truth if you supposedly have it. And if it fails in charity, mercy, and love, then perhaps that is why it is not being raged from the pulpit as you'd like. If the Lord says to Love Him above all, He is asking for everything. More than your securities, more than your families, more than anything. Is that so much to ask?
"Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me." If your arms are crossed, you are being obstinate. If your head is turned away, you simply don't want to hear it. To the world you fool only one person...yourself, and this is the case of sin, which in spanish means "without", without love. This is a song I wrote yesterday, in spanish, that a lion was crying out in the desert, and the voice was to repent and convert! And that voice is heard if you put your ear to it. Listen. I sat with Monsignor Gully in a moment alone together this weekend, and I said "Father, you know, I write many times my daily reflections, and I am perplexed so often, about how Christ works among us. Like when I'm sitting in front of the prisoner, is it Him that is Christ, or myself being Christ?" And he said it's not either but both, we are the body of Christ. This is Christ's body we are in. Shall the body of Christ lie to itself? Shall it be forgetting of self? It all made all the sense in the world. You are Christ, and so am I. "Christ is counting on you", we hear at Cursillo. The Samaritan, the good one is the Christ. Christ reveals Himself. His revelation makes your heart pump with love, love to reach out, and do the impossible, like love the unlovable. Being the body of Christ, reconciliation means healing the body of Christ. And the song ends with a lion's roar, CONVERT, REPENT, AND GIVE JESUS ALL YOUR HEART!